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March 25, 2018

The Prophet and ISIS

Prof. Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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British journalist Yvonne Ridley is currently writing a book about Prophet Muhammad. Recently she asked if I would write about how I felt the Prophet might respond to ISIS - an issue she plans to address in her forthcoming book. I was glad to do so and am delighted that Ms. Yvonne likes my piece; I hope you do too.

If I had the miraculous privilege of interviewing Prophet Muhammad today in 2018, this is one of the leading questions I would pose: “What is your response to ISIS?”

This is what I think Muhammad might say:

“These people invoke my name day and night, yet they do not walk in my footsteps.

“They prey upon the poor and intellectually vulnerable, claiming they are creating an Islamic state, or caliphate, like mine. But I never, ever, wanted to create a state – Islamic, or otherwise. In fact, I was offered the kingship of Arabia early in my mission and refused.

“Statehood was not my objective, so I never tried to reform society from the top down. Islam was revealed to me as a grass-roots, holistic, bottom-up approach.

“My true mission was to change the minds and hearts of my people, to teach them loving care toward one another and to seek blessings from the Almighty who guided me every day.

“Learning and teaching from the Almighty, I never cursed or attacked those who opposed me – much less did I wish for the death of all ‘infidels,’ as ISIS teaches and performs.

“Abdul-Muttalib, an uncle who raised me, rejected my call to faith, but I respected that choice for the rest of his life and was at his deathbed. Another uncle, Muawiyah, tried to kill me but I urged my followers to respect him also, as he was one of Arabia’s leading statesmen.

“I never, ever, used violence to spread the peaceful teachings and guidance of the Qur’an. I never, ever, destroyed entire towns or slaughtered innocent men, women and children, as ISIS does, in our Creator’s name.

“I never, ever claimed to have founded a new religion, nor did I claim that only my followers would go to Heaven. And I never, ever, judged anyone.

“Although the Quran articulated mine as a Divine revelation, I always respected others who did not think as I did, for I was taught that differences in belief, ethnic origin, language, and other attributes, are all God's will. God alone is the Supreme and All-Knowing Judge of everyone and everything – not our fellow humans.

“I practiced what I preached. Even my opponents recorded that I was kind and fair, a loving and understanding human being who cared dearly about his fellow humans, the animal kingdom, the plants of the earth; indeed, the whole environment in which we live.

“I spent 23 years listening daily to the instructions of our Creator and reaching out as teacher and advocate to all my fellow countrymen and women. My core message was about love and compassion, about creating a collective social paradigm shift toward common good that would be sustained long after my physical death. I knew that was God’s will, the way that resonated with the human psyche.

“During the last few years of my mission I was able to establish law and order, where all citizens were equal in rights and responsibility; and I left behind a written constitution to spell them out.

“Sadly, it is clear that followers of ISIS never read the Qur’an mindfully enough to truly understand it. I pray that its messages of peace and love will eventually get through to them and that they will realize and repent of all the crimes they have committed in God’s name, and mine.

“And I pray the day will soon come when all of humanity sees that ISIS has lied to them about following my footsteps and fighting for Islam.”

As one who tries daily to live the message of Muhammad, I hope this imagined interview strikes a lasting chord of truth, for only truth-in-action can defeat ISIS.

 * * *

 Egyptian-born Dr. Mohamed Elmasry is emeritus professor of Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo. As a visiting Imam, he often represents Canadian Muslims at international faith conferences.

 He is the author of Spiritual Fitness® for Life – a term he coined and patented.

Dr. Elmasry is also a founding editor of the online alternative news-and-views magazine, The Canadian Charger

He can be reached at

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On July 7, 2024 in Toronto, Canada, Dimitri Lascaris delivered a speech on the right to resist oppression.

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